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What to Expect Your Freshman Year of High School

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Making the transition from middle to high school can be an exciting, albeit intimidating process. Often times the student body is larger, and you’re a new fish in a much larger pond. For others the surroundings might be the same, but the academics are challenging and the expectations are much higher.

Most high schools have four grades: ninth (freshmen), 10th (sophomores), 11th (juniors), and 12th (seniors). Your freshman year of high school marks the beginning of an important high school journey — one that will, hopefully, lead you to a great college education.

Overview of Freshman Year of High School 

Your first year of high school is an important time to consider what classes and extracurriculars you like, what passions you want to pursue, and what might be possible for your future career. It’s also important to learn how to set academic goals that will prepare you for college, if that’s the path you choose to take. This is the time when you truly start building your profile for college, so think about what you want that to look like in terms of both academics and the interests you want to develop further.

Allow Time to Adjust

The start of high school may be exciting, but it will be a big adjustment. There will be new classes, new teachers, new students, and often an entirely new campus to navigate. Your first day may leave you feeling lost and uncomfortable, but give it some time — every big change requires an adjustment period. Rely on friends, teachers, or even older siblings to help you find your classrooms, learn the lunchroom dynamics, find new clubs to explore, and get used to the new academic rigors. Before you know it, you’ll be navigating the new high school scene like a pro.

Explore New Interests

High school holds a wealth of opportunities for freshman students. From new clubs and organizations, to sports teams and other activities, there’s no shortage of extracurriculars for you to explore. Now is the time to get involved, and there will be plenty of opportunities to do so. If your school offers a club fair, go and learn about the organizations that pique your interest. A bigger student body often means a more diverse extracurriculars, so explore what interests you. You never know what you might learn about yourself and your high school.

Embrace New Friendships

And maybe grow out of old ones. The dynamics of high school are much different than in primary and middle school. While it’s common to stay friends with those you have grown up with, new classes and involvement in new activities can lead you to new friendships you may not have considered before. If you’re attending a new school where you know few people, don’t worry — you will get to know your new classmates faster than you think.

Learn to Manage Your Time

As we said before, your freshman year of high school is the beginning of a four-year journey to college, and it’s something that needs to be taken seriously. Classes in high school rely heavily on every minute of classroom instruction, so there will be a lot of homework. Add extracurricular activities and new friendships to the mix and suddenly you have an overwhelmingly busy schedule. You’ll need to quickly learn how to prioritize your time in and outside of the classroom. Balancing schoolwork with extracurriculars and a social life can be difficult at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. Create a homework schedule or keep a detailed calendar to help you keep track of all commitments. Staying organized is key to successfully managing your time.

Start Your College Prep

Colleges look at all four years of academics, not just junior and senior year, so start your freshman year off on the right foot by performing well in your courses. If you’re having difficulty understanding some of the material, don’t be the shy freshman who silently struggles — ask your teachers for help. Not only will this improve your grade, it will also help you foster strong relationships with your instructors — something that is important when it comes time to ask for recommendations during the college application process.

Enjoy the Journey

The start of the high school experience is an exciting time. There’s no doubt that some challenges will lie ahead as you adjust to new academic and social dynamics, but it will be a fun journey. Remember that high school is meant to be educational, enlightening, and the stepping-stone to a college education. You’ll learn a lot about yourself your freshman year — which subjects you like, which subjects you don’t, which interests you wish to pursue, and how you want to contribute to your high school community. This is a time of great change, so embrace it!

Freshman year of high school can take some students by surprise in both positive and negative ways. By knowing what to expect when you arrive for your first day, you can mentally prepare for the experience and ease into the transition.

For high school freshmen beginning the journey to a successful college admissions process, be sure to check out the College Planning Checklist  so you can stay on top of what you need to do this year in order to stay on track for senior year!

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